Three more candidates are joining the race to replace Abdi Warsame on the Minneapolis City Council.
The three — along with Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board member AK Hassan — will face off in an Aug. 11 special election. The winner will represent the city’s Sixth Ward, which covers neighborhoods including Cedar-Riverside, Seward, Ventura Village and Elliot Park.
The winner will take office at a time when the city is grappling with the economic fallout from the coronavirus and struggling to balance its policy goals against a newly strapped budget. The new council member will also play a key role in determining the fate of the controversial Africa Village project.
The new candidates are Suud Olat, 29, of Ventura Village, who is running as a member of the DFL; Jamal Osman, 35, of Cedar-Riverside, who is not running as a member of a party; and Green Party member Joshua Scheunemann, 25, of Stevens Square.
Born in Somalia, Olat lived in Kenya as a refugee before moving to the United States in 2012 and to Minnesota in 2015. He now works as a language interpreter and consultant on immigration and refugee issues.
Olat was a former congressional district leader for the ONE Campaign, a nonprofit working to reduce poverty and disease in Africa. He said he is running to improve the lives of the residents in the ward, hoping to bring his global experience to local politics.
“My fulfilling life today has informed my perspective,” he said. “I want to work to ensure everyone in this ward and this city they can thrive.”
Olat said he would seek to bring more affordable housing to the ward and focus on issues including poverty, education and small business support.
Osman was born in Somalia, then went to Kenya before moving to the United States as a teenager. He works in social services for the nonprofit Commonbond Communities and has served on the boards of local health organizations. In those roles, he has focused on providing mental health first-aid training and helping tenants advocate for their rights.
“I feel like my job I’m doing right now, fighting for people, fighting for Ward 6, I can do it in a bigger scale” as a council member, Osman said.
If elected, Osman said he will focus on helping people navigate through the coronavirus pandemic, increasing affordable housing, helping homeless youths, increasing access to mental health services and combating the opioid epidemic.
Scheunemann was born in St. Paul. He works in retail at Office Max and runs a political consulting company. He has participated in several political campaigns, he said, including at Working America and serving as campaign treasurer for Park Board Commissioner Chris Meyer.
Scheunemann said he is running to have a “diverse third party voice in the city,” which he said would help unite people during the pandemic.
“Democrats are taking a step, but we’re still not taking that full step forward,” he said. “Having another voice that has that middle ground can actually get things done.”
Scheunemann said he wants to bring more affordable housing and tenant protections to the ward. He would focus on addressing climate change and pushing for a “Green New Deal” on the local level, including by keeping companies accountable for their carbon emissions.
The winner will remain in office through 2021, completing the rest of Warsame’s term. Warsame resigned from the City Council last month to take over as executive director of the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority.
Additional candidates could still join the race. The period to file for candidacy runs from May 19 to June 2.